Ailie Blunnie

Songwriter :: Singer :: Musician

New year, and some new ways to stay sane (*maybe)

Posted by on Jan 6, 2017

New year, and some new ways to stay sane (*maybe)

Happy New Year! Well? Tell me everything. Did you have a nice Christmas? I’m just back in Dublin after a break at home in Carrick. It’s freeeezin’ here! The heat is on full throttle and I’m firing cups of tea into myself. January is D-month for me, so I’m back in the office (sittingroom) getting ‘West to the Evening Sun’ (the title track and first single from the album) ready for release. Some of the work is practical, like finishing the video, and some of it is more.. mental-health-related. Do you know the episode of Father Ted where Sr Assumpta wakes them up in the middle of the night for their Lenten torture? Well, I’ve been waking up over the past few weeks feeling not unlike that – the t-shirt I’m wearing, too short to pull down over the trousers that I forgot to put on before leaving the house for the event in the middle of the big place with the big crowd that I CAN’T GET AWAY FROM. You know the one! I’m a bit nervous! I used to get really nervous. I remember praying fervently the night before my first Leaving Cert exam, to die peacefully in my sleep. I had a stomach full of dread, and I knew that, short of being run over by a benevolent bus in the morning, this was my last hope. I prayed like mad.. Hail Marys.. Our Fathers.. The Creed.. It didn’t work, but what it did help me see, was that I could afford to trust myself to have my own back a bit more: the morning was fine.. the exams were fine.. it was all fine. It was frightening to me though, the ease and speed with which you could find yourself in deep distress. Which made me prick my ears up at this: I came across a list of Apps that seem to be showing promise in helping people identify and treat factors linked to anxiety, depression, and generalised feelings of not-quite-rightness. The idea is that they will help you alert yourself to things such as social isolation, problems with sleeping, too little activity, obsessive thinking, etc… with a view to lowering the risk of you heading down that slippery-slopery slope. It struck me that these might be particularly good for people in their teens/early 20s. See below for the link* The way I try to deal...

Read More

December // album update

Posted by on Dec 10, 2016

December // album update

Hello! So, Christmas again! How are ya getting on? Have you the shopping done? I’ve nothing done yet. The people-pleaser in me loves saying that, knowing that other people might feel better about themselves by comparison. And then the rebel in me is like “flip that for a game of soldiers, I don’t care what anyone thinks”.. which isn’t true, of course, but, given the global loony-mayhem at the moment, you’d nearly be forgiven, wouldn’t you? I was reading recently that our last shared ancestors (human/ape) might have come from around the Rift Valley in East Africa (I may be a bit late to the anthropological party on this one – it was news to me!). Anyway, I saw a beautiful picture of the area as taken from the space station, and I have to say.. it kind of helped put the Trump stuff in perspective for me a bit. It made me start thinking about how we must have been back then.. hanging out in the trees.. swinging away.. swinging away.. and then the transition to walking upright.. swing.. swing.. double-tucked-back-somersault and *land* There’s just something lovely about it. And another thing I’ve taken solace in, and you might too.. is the fact that the universe is just so incredibly big. 13.8 billion years and 1 or 2 hundred billion galaxies of big. It’s a lot. Makes my problems seem very small. Anyway, moving a bit closer to home – the album is nearly there! I’ll fill you in on where I am: Recording started around this time last year, and by February, I had.. I suppose.. about half of it done. At that point, I took a step back for perspective – I headed to the Rift Valley of my mind – and I realised I’d need to pull my socks up a bit if I was going to be happy with the final album. I felt like I wasn’t giving a true account of myself.. or something. Too much people-pleasing, too little rebel, maybe.. Probably, actually! So, I changed tack around May, got some of the newer songs together, met up with a fantastic producer, and the rest, as they say, is not history yet, but I’m delighted to be releasing the first single from it – ‘West to the Evening Sun’ – next month! (all going well) The album will follow shortly after that, and...

Read More

On the Bus

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016

On the Bus

Well! I’m on the bus to Cork at the minute. Off to see my relations and get a gig fix. I love Cork. Cork was like an exotic utopia to us growing up in Leitrim.. full of distant drumbeats and the fragrant musk of sweet possibility (..roughly translating as: our Cork cousins were musicians, older than us, we got into places underage with them and I fancied all their friends). I always thought I’d live there when I grew up, but now actually.. now that I’ve learned that the Dublin-Cork express has plug sockets on it, I can imagine myself happily just living on the bus-to-Cork. I left my job two weeks ago – you might’ve seen me say that on Twitter. It’s been a funny old time. I did it to finish my album, because otherwise I swear I’ll be 102 by the time I finish it. Leaving your job though.. I don’t know if this is a universal thing, but it threw up a weird mix of emotions. Thoughts about purpose.. identity.. values.. priorities.. dying.. I had to sit myself down in front of the mirror and say very gentle things. Speaking of which, I heard that if you have an itch on, say, your left arm, and you look in the mirror and scratch the same spot, but on your right arm, it helps soothe the itch? There was actually a proper study done on this.* Try it there next time you have an itch and tell me. Anyway, I’m getting used to the new day-job, though it’s different from being in the 9am morning-coffee whirl. I love the sense of belonging that comes with being part of the ‘commuter’ world, or whatever you want to call it. I miss the photocopier craic with workmates too, and the students. You make great friends.. But it’s great, being a free agent. And a privilege. I’m spending most of these days revising the lyrics and structures of whichever song is being recorded next, and then practising until I’m happy with the various aspects of it. Passes the day nicely. And then I spend the rest of the time indulging in absolute nonsense. My favourite thing in a while has been finding the Ig Nobel Prizes – prizes awarded for research that makes people laugh first and think second.** My sister told me about these – the mirror-itch study...

Read More

Olympics, women, the impact of hormone fluctuations and menstruation ..and other musings.

Posted by on Aug 13, 2016

Olympics, women, the impact of hormone fluctuations and menstruation ..and other musings.

Howaya! I’ve been glued to the Olympic gymnastics this week. The power, strength, speed, flexibility, balance, stamina, coordination, control, determination, grace, resilience, fearlessness.. Such full and complete athleticism. It would take your breath away. Brought back how mad I was about gymnastics when I did it too. God.. when I think of it.. I was tiny. But powerful. We all were. I remember.. when you’d say you were a gymnast back then, you’d sometimes get an ‘aw that’s lovely’ sort of response, and I remember.. my mam used to laugh and tell them not to be fooled – we were strong as horses. And we were. It’s a fantastic sport.. with benefits from the earliest stages. (I was only competing at a very local level) And then I remembered something else – the dread of the big THING coming. Your period. Aunt Flow. Your monthly visitor. The week of doom.. Christ, what were we going to do when all that happened? ..and us in leotards. Would I be able to wear pads?.. Tampons were scary things and caused Toxic Shock Syndrome according to the label – was I willing to die for my sport? ..what if the string thing popped out..? Aaagh, I’m eleven – I don’t like this! The very idea struck terror into me. This was pre-Google, so we couldn’t really look stuff up, and as for asking anyone – not a chance!   #Morto So I think most of us kept quiet and just hoped we’d be among those lucky late-starters. I remember once hearing that one of the Ballina girls had started, and the response was like the girl had just been given hours to live. Horror! The poor thing. Career over! She was, maybe, 13. Sure we hadn’t a clue. Anyway, I took some time this morning to look up how people were dealing with this now, and how female athletes at all levels were managing their monthly cycles. The main thing I wanted to find out was if and how hormone fluctuations were affecting their mental health and physical performance, and also, the practical question of how to deal with periods with a million cameras on you. This isn’t an area I’ve any great insight into (biology/biopsychology), so it’s amateur dabbling at its best, but from what I could gather, the subject hasn’t been that widely discussed or studied yet – something I’m sure will...

Read More

June, July, and happily ever after

Posted by on Jul 2, 2016

June, July, and happily ever after

Hello, It’s July, oh my. I’m kind of jealous of Mundy for writing that song. Every year, there it is on the radio. But what do they say, Freud and them fellas.. that it’s better to channel your negative feelings into something more useful? Anyway, on a matter entirely unrelated, I was thinking I might name the 11 songs on my album after all the other months of the year. Track 1 (‘January’) will be bleak, with a chance of snow. Track 2, similar, a bit shorter. Track 3, a nice march in 4/4. Track 4, clean sounds, a bit showery. Track 5 – may or may not make the cut. Track 6, Summer-Lovin’ kind of vibe. —–Track 7 will be a minute’s silence out of respect for Mundy—– Track 8.. ..you get the idea. So obviously I’m going to clean up. $$$. I might even be on the Forbes list by next summer.. Having said that, I recently heard that there were over 7000 albums released in Ireland last year. Isn’t that hard to believe? The majority, I think, were Country & Irish, but it certainly makes one feel small. Very small indeed. Like a little field mouse. In a big field of field mouses. It’s going grand anyway, to get to the point. I’m still recording the songs. The ones I’m putting on this album are mostly new ones, so I’m very curious to see what you think of them, and fairly terrified in equal measure. They’re a bit more folky and raw, I think. A bit angry here and there maybe. I’m trying to make them as honest as I can. Though, in the greater scheme of things – Brexit, Orlando, Istanbul – the album doesn’t seem so big a deal. The world’s gone a bit mad, hasn’t it? What’s going to happen next? Will we just wipe ourselves out altogether, do you reckon? Or will the good win out? Where’s Ted when you need him – I have questions!* In gig news, the next one is on Friday 8th July in Athlone (The Malt House) supporting Red Empire – one of BBC America’s top picks for 2016. I’m on at 8.30/9 and you’re very welcome to come. It’s upstairs. ______ In terms of fun stuff, I’ve been loving Twitter lately. The National Geographic and Science Daily are a great follow if you’re looking to expand your...

Read More

May

Posted by on May 16, 2016

May

Hello! My God, the weather! Hasn’t it just been gorgeous? I finally got to swap my thermal leggings for the normal variety. I hope you’re well? I was on my holidays in Sligo for the last 2 weeks. I sometimes rent a cottage and head off with the piano for some concentrated sea-air-fuelled work. It went well.. enough.. I got a good 20% of what I planned to do done. Not bad! The amount of daydreaming I do though.. disaster! And driving. I just drove and drove. So many incredibly lovely places to take a spin to. Christ though, you have to be a bit careful driving aimlessly around that neck of the woods. Those roads whose signs start with the letter ‘L’.. (i.e. L17221) I suppose the ‘L’ means ‘Local road’, but I came to think upon them more as the ‘Leave the road you’re on on the peril of your life’ roads. One of them just plain turned into the sea on me (the road to Coney Island, when the tide was in). I went up to Donegal too. Across those spectacular mountains to Ardara and Portnoo (that’s where the photo above was taken*). And then home to da shtix. Tis all the shtix, I suppose, but by home, I mean Leitrim. I had a lovely quiet time in Leitrim. I didn’t realise it, but Mars was really near and bright while I was there – it still is, I think. Have a look: it’s a kind of twinkly yellow-orange-red colour. Beautiful. You can see its position here in this video, to help you locate it (accompanied by some nice Vivaldi music, which sounds hilarious). Speaking of videos, thanks a million too for all your support for my new one for “I Will Count My Blessings”. The comments and feedback have been really touching, and very much appreciated. The album’s coming along grand too: I’ve settled on ” West to the Evening Sun” as the title. It’s actually an abridged title though. The full one is “West to the Evening Sun where the Local Roads May or May Not Scare the Living Daylights Out of You”. But it won’t fit on the cover, they said. Late September is the due date! And I’ll be doing some preview gigs before that too. I’ll keep you posted. Last thing: if you’re into brain science stuff, I came across, and really enjoyed, this...

Read More